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Ministry flouted ad rules

india Updated: Jan 26, 2010 23:28 IST
Nagendar Sharma
Nagendar Sharma
Hindustan Times
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The advertisement of the women and child development ministry featuring a former Pakistan air chief was issued defying clear directives from the cabinet secretariat and violated the government’s advertisement policy, official documents show.

Cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar had, in a letter to all ministries on December 12, asked them not to “issue advertisements by employing outside agencies”.

With the Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP), the government wing responsible for the design and release of advertisements, having said that it was not taken into confidence on the controversial advertisement, Chandrasekhar’s letter puts the WCD ministry in the dock.

The directive from the bureaucrat had followed a note by the information and broadcasting ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which pointed that “certain ministries/departments were not involving the Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP)” in creating, conceiving and routing their advertisements.

Chandrasekhar, in his letter, asked the secretaries of all the ministries to follow the Advertisement Policy, 2007, to ensure “cost effectiveness, transparency and equitable distribution” of the advertisements issued by the government. HT has obtained a copy of the letter.

“Issuance of display advertisements following other methods by ministries is not only in contravention of the government policy, but it also results in extra expenditure,” the cabinet secretary wrote.

“At a time when economy measures are being exercised, cost effectiveness has to be a prime consideration in reaching out to people for publicity of policies and programmes of the government.”

The advertisement, which wrongly carried the photo of former Pakistan air chief Tanvir Ahmed alongside top Indian icons, deeply embarrassed the government. The PMO apologised to the nation on Sunday and ordered a probe into the goof-up.

The DAVP has washed its hands of the controversy, saying the publicity material was created, conceived and by the WCD ministry with the help of an “external agency.” The DAVP role was confined to merely releasing it to newspapers, a senior official said.